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Series / White Christmas

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"Are monsters born? Or are they made?"

White Christmas (화이트 크리스마스, Monster) is an 8 episode 2011 Korean Drama Special which aired on KBS2.

Susin High is an extremely exclusive and prestigious private Boarding School, open to only the top 0.1% of the nation's students and secluded in the snowy mountains, far away from civilization. Most of its students consider the stringent school to be more like a prison and the eight days of Christmas break (the only time they are allowed away from their studies) their only chance to escape all year. This year however, seven students choose to stay at Susin during the break, chaperoned by the P.E teacher Yoon Jong Il. They are:

On Christmas Eve, the psychologist Kim Yo Han gets into a car accident on the icy roads near the school and the students take him in. He soon discovers that all is not as it seems: the students have each received a mysterious letter accusing them of committing specific sins and containing an ominous warning about the end of the break. As they try to find out who sent these letters and why, the students are thrown into a dangerous fight against a psychotic killer, their own inner demons and even each other. How many of them can survive these eight days with both their lives and their sanity?

This series contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Choi Chi Hoon, who is not only the best student at Susin academically but also comes up with multiple solutions to the students' dangerous situations using his smarts.
  • Adults Are Useless: And the ones who aren't either are psychotic or don't live very long.
  • A House Divided: Moments of bonding and collaboration between the students are almost always followed by them lashing out and making catastrophic decisions.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: A frequent way to bypass school security. The police team even uses it later to infiltrate the school.
  • Always Second Best: Choi Chi Hoon is essentially a good grades machine, and the more ambitious students at Susin, like Moo Yul or Mi Reu, struggle in vain to surpass him.
    • Mi Reu actually did beat him in the rankings once, but was so exhausted by the attempt that he never tried again.
    • Jae Kyu feels this way about the entire student body of Susin. At his old school, he was the top student everyone turned to for help. At the most demanding high school in Korea, he's a shrimp no one has ever heard of.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When the killer has all the students ask him questions, he answers them with a smile until Choi Chi Hoon asks how many bullets he has left in his gun. Though he answers truthfully, the killer's demeanor turns serious.
  • The Beautiful Elite: The entire student cast.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: This used to be the case for Eun Sung, who is widely acknowledged as the prettiest girl in school and had a warm presence people were drawn to. Since sliding into depression, however, she's become harsh and cynical.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The polite, friendly students are just as dangerous as the loud, aggressive ones in the long run.
  • Boarding School: Susin, with an element of Elaborate University High.
  • Broken Pedestal: Eun Sung went through a deep depression after discovering her mother was having an affair.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Mi Reu is an eccentric, loud-mouthed, attention-seeking punk with fire engine-red hair, but he's an accomplished hacker and is the only student who ever succeeded in beating Choi Chi Hoon for top spot.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Mi Reu's bandaid, a cell phone, a certain phone conversation, the school's television screen, the detention room, and many other seemingly insignificant objects and pieces of dialogue gain importance long after they have been first introduced.
  • Closed Circle: Susin becomes this after ep 3 once the school's communication network is tampered with.
  • Dirty Coward: Bully Young Jae is the likeliest to throw others under the bus to protect himself. He was also the only one visibly frightened by the gym teacher's spooky story.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Almost every student has some sort of hidden trauma when the show begins. And if not, they certainly do by the time the show ends...
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Oh Jung Hye first appears onscreen halfway through the series, by which point the viewer has almost certainly forgotten that Kim Yo Han listed her as his emergency contact.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Eun Sung. Aside from the multiple guys who are or were interested in her, Jung Hye also repeatedly notes how pretty she is.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Choi Chi Hoon, faced with execution by the killer, makes no attempt to beg or barter information, only stares, stone-faced. It's implied this unnerved the killer so badly he chose not to kill him.
  • Failure Hero: Moo Yul, who constantly makes what would be good and rational decisions, but always ends up being screwed over because fate seems to hate him and his peers.
  • Foreshadowing: Choi Chi Hoon casually reveals he threw away his note without a second thought and only stayed at school to get some work done. Lee Jae Kyu seems particularly upset by his disregard for the letters, which makes sense he was the one who sent them.
  • Freudian Excuse: Deconstructed. It's discussed as one explanation for how monsters can be made, though some students don't consider it a valid excuse for committing crimes.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: This trope is explicitly mentioned in the opening narration: The story Iím about to tell is about my fight with a monster. I had to become a monster myself for 8 days to fight it.
  • Hope Spot: Episode 6. The killer is locked up, Choi Chi Hoon is found alive, plans are made to contact the police, and Mi Reu even kisses Jung Hye. Too bad there's two episodes left.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold/Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Jo Young Jae has an abrasive exterior, but under that he's complicated, going from aiding some students to admitting to despising others and being okay if they die. His little scraps with people are sometimes playful or out of a sincere desire to hurt them.
  • Lack of Empathy: Choi Chi Hoon says he has trouble feeling emotion like regular people, and he is the least emotionally expressive of the students.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: All you need is a hanger, an air freshener, a lighter, and Choi Chi Hoon!
  • Mexican Standoff: In episode 7, between Kim Yo Han, Oh Jung Hye, Moo Yul and Chi Hoon.
  • Motor Mouth: Yang Kang Mo is noted as a compulsive chatterer, especially when under duress. During a one-on-one session he ends up rattling on about Die Hard and Brad Pitt. Kim Yo Han theorizes it is a defense mechanism and possibly compensation for his disability.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Kang Mi Reu introduces himself coming out of the shower wearing only a small pair of underwear and showing off his built physique. When the boys are all having fun in the snow, he takes his shirt off first and is the longest to go around shirtless.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Park Moo Yul has two:
    • Saving the serial killer's life.
    • Pushing Choi Chi Hoon off the hill and having him break his leg.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:An unanswered question at the end is whether the students have become just like Kim Yo Han.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Kim Yo Han.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Kim Yo Han is dead, but murdering him essentially proves his theory that he could make the teens into monsters. And Yoon Su killed himself to avoid the same fate.
  • The Sixth Ranger / The Lancer: Kang Mi Reu
  • Serial Killer: Kim Yo Han
  • Snow Means Death: It's a white Christmas, and there's a serial killer on the loose.
  • Spanner in the Works: Kang Mi Reu. He stays hidden and thus Kim Yo Han never finds him, and when he sneaks back in, he accidentally knocks out Kim Yo Han in one of his pranks, allowing the kids to take back the school. Oh Jung-hye also throws a wrench into their victory by reclaiming the gun and freeing Yo Han.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Several. Kim Jin Soo, Kang Mo and possibly Young Jae towards Eun Sung, and Jung Hye towards Kim Yo Han.
  • The Stoic: Choi Chi Hoon. Justified, as he reveals he has a neurological condition that inhibits him from experiencing strong emotion.
  • Straw Vulcan: Averted with Choi Chi Hoon. He's consistently portrayed as the smartest and most rational student, keeping his head when the situation seems to boil over, always coming up with plans when problems arise, and figuring out who sent the letters, then having a calm discussion with them because of it. Even with his fight with Park Moo Yul, despite Choi Chi Hoon's inability to understand why, he's completely correct in calling out Park Moo Yul giving away the gun, as it leaves the weapon and ammunition in the same location, and the killer gets a hold of it again.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: None of these kids like each other, but they have to collaborate to stay alive. Results are mixed.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: A wad of bright pink chewing gum is a surefire sign Mi Reu has been by.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Chi Hoon and Moo Yul's lunchtime debate about whether monsters are born or made in episode 1 inspires the killer's "experiment".
    • Lee Jae Kyu, who sent the core characters the mysterious letters in the first place. Without them, everyone (except for Chi Hoon, who'd planned to stay anyways) would have gone home and the killer's experiment would never have come to pass.note